Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research offers new hope in helping elderly fight infections

21.07.2006
Thousands of infections could be prevented each year in older people and hospital stays reduced following findings from two studies which show that imbalances in the immune systems of people aged over 65 make them more prone to illnesses like flu or bacterial infections as a result of cuts and falls.

The separate studies carried out at the University of Birmingham and the Royal Free and University College Medical School were both funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) as part of its Science of Ageing and Experimental Ageing Research Initiatives.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham looked at the immune systems of elderly patients suffering from hip fractures. They found that the most abundant form of white blood cells, whose job it is to defend against invading microbes, are only half as effective in people aged over 65 as they are in younger people, suggesting that older people respond to stress differently.

When responding to physical stress like a hip fracture, people’s bodies produce two hormones, cortisol which suppresses the immune defence system and DHEAS which stimulates it.

The researchers found that in elderly patients their levels of cortisol were higher than their levels of DHEAS, suggesting that their bodies were actually lowering their defence systems and making them prone to infections by impairing the function of their white blood cells.

Lead researcher Professor Janet Lord explains: “What is particularly exciting about this finding is that in laboratory experiments we can improve the efficiency of white blood cells by adding DHEAS. We are now going to explore whether treating patients with this hormone can help them fight infections.”

In a separate study, researchers from the Royal Free and University College Medical School, looked specifically at skin infections in older people, studying the role of T lymphocytres, a type of white blood cell crucial in fighting infection.

By introducing minor infections to the skin of old and young volunteers, the researchers found that cells from older people had fewer receptors to direct the T lymphocytes to where they are needed, than younger people. This deficit resulted in less T lymphocytes reaching the infection site.

Professor Arne Akbar who led the study, said: “We know older people are susceptible to skin infections, skin cancers and poor wound healing which can result in lengthy hospital stays. Our research shows that in some circumstances, older people have a specific immune response deficit in their skin, not necessarily a generalised lack of immunity. This is a new and exciting concept, the challenge now is to understand what the deficiency is and how to reverse it.”

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: “As life expectancy rises and our population ages, understanding how to stay healthy in old age is increasingly important. These research projects highlight the crucial role biosciences research plays in gaining fundamental knowledge which leads to real treatment outcomes which will help prevent suffering.”

Matt Goode | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Devils Hole: Ancient Traces of Climate History

24.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation

24.05.2017 | Life Sciences

A CLOUD of possibilities: Finding new therapies by combining drugs

24.05.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>